I maintain there will never be a true successor to Game of Thrones, a series that drew tens of millions of viewers together at once. If I must give a series a puncher’s chance though, it would be Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings.
According to Collider, Amazon will spend a record $500 million on just the first season of Lord of the Rings. This report, which has been confirmed by several outlets, debunks previous reports that Amazon would spend $500 million for multiple seasons of the show. No, just one, the first.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about [NZ]$650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism said. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
As that eye-popping figure confirms, Amazon is going all-in on the project, sending a clear message to Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+ that Prime Video is aiming for the lead in the contentious Streaming Wars. Collider adds that the $500 million check is for production alone. Amazon already spent $250 million just to acquire the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. Documents released as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act confirm the studio’s plan to film up to five LoR seasons as well as a possible spinoff series in New Zealand.
Translation: while HBO spends the next decade sending viewers back to Westeros with Game of Thrones prequel(s), Amazon subscribers will be stuck in Middle Earth. (Viewers like me will share time in both.)
It’s unclear just how much cash HBO will spend expanding George R.R. Martin’s universe. Though HBO spent roughly $100 million per season on Game of Thrones, costs drastically increased over time with per-episode costs increasing from $6 million to $15 million over the course of eight seasons. For a hint, HBO recently signed Martin to a new five-year deal said to be in the mid-eight figures.
One also cannot spend $500 million quietly. Amazon’s spending will trigger a tax rebate of NZ$160 million ($114 million U.S). The Hollywood Reporter says that detail is already controversial in New Zealand as the government could end up on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to help subsidize Amazon’s series.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings is planning to debut later in the year. Expectations are not low.